Child care is an essential business and the backbone to a healthy economy. It is even more essential as individuals are returning to work.
A lack of available child care slots is one of the most pressing challenges Weld County’s families are facing before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially looking for infants and toddlers care.
In 2018, there were 15,667 children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce, yet there were only about 6,200 licensed child care slots in child care centers, homes and preschools. Most of the children in Weld County are being cared for in a family, friend and neighbor (FFN) setting.
The child care industry operates on a small margin that most struggle to keep their doors open. COVID-19 affected all aspects of the child care industry, whether they are a child care home, center care, or FFN, whether they are part of the existing subsidy system or private pay market.
Most child care settings rely on parent tuition even if they receive some public assistance. With parents either being furloughed, laid off work, working remotely or fear of health and safety, it has become increasingly difficult for child care providers to keep their doors open. A gap in our child care infrastructure already cost American families and the economy about $57 billion each year in lost earnings, productivity and revenue according to the National Women’s Law Center.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children released data on the impact of COVID-19 on over 6,000 child care providers both centers and home providers from across the country.
Top findings include:
- 69 percent of providers do not want small business loans or are worried about having to pay the loans back.
- 17 percent said they would not survive a closure without significant public investments and support.
- 30 percent they could not survive a closure of more than two weeks without support.
- 16 percent said they would not survive longer than a month without support.
A well-resourced, equitable child care system is essential for our economic recovery. We must rebuild and support our child care system to ensure that all families have access to high-quality, affordable child care provided by educators who are paid what they deserve and are supported.
A framework for investments to stabilize the child care sector include:
- Be available to stabilize the entire child care system
- Address the needs of providers, educators, families and children
- Build on existing structures to ensure funding gets out as quickly as possible
- Ensure equity is front and center
- Preserve health, safety and quality standards
In order to preserve and protect Weld County’s child care providers, workers and the children and families served, action needs to be taken immediately. Be part of the solution! Advocate for child care, implement family friendly workplace policies, be part of the early childhood council, and join an action group to increase child care capacity.
Sheri Hannah-Ruh is the director of United Way of Weld County Promises for Children.
For more information or if you have questions please contact, PromisesforChildren@UnitedWay-Weld.org and Sheri Hannah-Ruh at (970) 353-4300.